PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – The parents of a 2-year-old boy who was mauled to death after falling into a wild African dogs exhibit have settled their lawsuit against the Pittsburgh zoo.

The attorneys for the boy’s parents, Jason and Elizabeth Derkosh, issued a joint statement with the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium on Monday.

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Their son, Maddox, lunged from his mother’s grasp and fell some 10 feet past a wooden railing into an enclosed exhibit below in 2012. He had bounced off a net meant to catch falling debris and trash, then into the exhibit, where several dogs fatally attacked him.

The bespectacled boy, who had vision problems, became the only visitor in the zoo’s 116-year history to die.

The statement says the settlement is confidential and that the family seeks privacy.

“My hunch is the zoo had some documents it did not want to go public,” said personal injury attorney Rob Peirce, speculating on the settlement. “At the same time, the plaintiffs, the family had some circumstances they don’t want the public to know about. So both sides get together and reach a compromise, or settlement where there isn’t a clear winner or loser.”

So what are the advantages to negotiating a sealed agreement? It depends on how you look at it.

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“When the documents are sealed, this means the public at-large and other people who might bring a case against a particular defendant would not have access to these documents in the future,” Peirce said.

In this case, we may never know the dollar amount assigned to the loss of Maddox’s life — or what, if any, changes will be made to the zoo.

“The court is there to determine was the settlement proper, was the amount provided to the estate of this child proper and were all the steps followed so that the estate, who is the one bringing this on behalf of the child,” Perice said.

Without an admission of guilt, earlier this year the zoo paid a USDA fine, following a separate investigation into the same case.


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Lynne Hayes-Freeland